One of the many ways that murder is the unique crime; it’s the only one that makes us ask why. Robbery, rape, fraud, drug dealing, all the filthy litany, they come with their filthy explanations built in; all you have to do is slot the perp into the perp-shaped hole. Murder needs an answer.
Some detectives don’t care. Officially, they’re right: if you can prove whodunit, nothing in the law says you need to prove why. I care. When I pulled what looked like a random drive-by, I spent weeks – after we had the shooter in custody, after we had enough evidence to sink him ten times over – having in-depth conversations with every monosyllabic cop-hating lowlife in his shit-hole neighborhood, until someone let slip that the victim’s uncle worked in a shop and had refused to sell the shooter’s twelve-year-old sister a packet of cigarettes. The day we stop asking why, the day we decide that it’s acceptable for the answer to a severed life is to be Just because, is the day we step away from that line across the cave entrance and invite the wild to come howling in.
Mick Scorcher Kennedy, detective on the Dublin murder squad, is called in to investigate a triple homicide in the rundown seaside residential town of Brianstown. The town, which years ago used to be a vacation spot called Broken Harbor, has seen better days thanks to the recession that has plagued Ireland. In the house, Scorcher and his new green-horn partner Richie Curran find Pat Spain, stabbed to death on his kitchen floor. His young children, Emma and Jack, have been smothered to death in their upstairs bedrooms. Pat’s wife Jenny has been taken to the hospital, also stabbed and barely clinging to life.
Not only does Scorcher have to pick through the pieces of the Spain’s lives, but he also needs to deal with his mentally unstable younger sister, who comes undone when she finds out her brother is on a case in Broken Harbor. Scorcher and his sisters used to vacation in Broker Harbor as children, until one night their mother decided to take her own life by drowning herself in the ocean. Now he spends his days and nights trying to figure out what was going on in the Spain household after Pat lost his job a few months back. They are also tracking down Connor, an old friend of the couple who has been camping out in an abandoned house across the yard from the family. Coming back to Broken Harbor, working all sort of ungodly hours with Richie to solve the case and trying to come to grips with his childhood memories of his mother may just put Detective Kennedy over the edge.
I have read and enjoyed the author’s previous novels (you can click on any of the titles to read my review of In the Woods, The Likeness and Faithful Place) and can tell you that Tana French has not lost her touch. I swear, this author doesn’t make a miss-step and her novels are all top notch thrillers and Broken Harbor is no exception.
The setting, a down-and-out neighborhood struggling during a terrible national financial crisis is aptly described as a ghost town, with only a few families left in all the rubble of half-finished houses trying to hang on to some sort of normalcy. As with all of the author’s characters, the Spains are nicely imagined – you can almost understand their desperation to keep up appearances, even if their home and lifestyle is on the line after Pat gets laid off. Mick Scorcher Kennedy is beautifully flawed – regimented, a bit full of himself and focused on the prize, and yet highly sympathetic. Richie, a newbie on the murder squad, who plays off of Scorcher’s tough-guy persona with a sympathetic ear, seems to work well with Scorcher, especially as they start to interrogate the characters.
I whipped through this book, taking a peek at it every free moment as I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out. This is Tana French’s fourth novel (and I read in an interview that her first two books, In the Woods and The Likeness, have been optioned for movies!) and I cannot wait for her fifth book. Never predictable, with an almost poetic prose, Tana French is most definitely one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t yet done so, make sure to start reading her Dublin murder squad series (all of her books feature a detective from the squad as the narrator) as I am sure you won’t be disappointed! Thank you Viking for sending Broken Harbor to me for review.
Viking is offering to giveaway a copy of BROKEN HARBOR to one lucky winner (US residents only – no P.O. Boxes please)! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post (with a valid e-mail address) by 12 noon on SUNDAY, August 26th and I will randomly pick one winner and will e-mail them directly.
For an additional chance, tweet this giveaway: Stop by @SWrittenWord 4 a chance to win BROKEN HARBOR by Tana French @VikingBooks #giveaway http://tinyurl.com/9yt3wbk